The amount of carbohydrates a woman eats, as well as the overall "glycemic load" of her diet, impact her chances of developing breast cancer, report Swedish researchers.
The glycemic index shows how carbohydrates have different effects on blood sugar while the glycemic load takes it one step further basing impact on blood sugar on the amount of the carb-rich food you eat.
For example, white rice is high glycemic index food so eating one cup (250 ml) of white rice at one sitting would lead to a sharp increase in blood sugar while eating one-half cup (125 ml) would give the same curve but half the height.
In this new study, a team of researchers analyzed health and dietary information on 61,433 women who completed "food frequency" questionnaires in the late 1980s.
Over the course of about 17 years, 2952 women developed breast cancer. According to the scientists, glycemic load "was significantly positively associated with risk of overall breast cancer."
Women with higher glycemic load diets were more likely to develop breast cancer than their peers who ate fewer high glycemic index foods.
It's thought that high-glycemic load diets may boost breast cancer risk by increasing concentrations of insulin and sex hormones like estrogen in the body, which may contribute to the development and spread of breast cancer cells.
These findings support previous studies citing the benefits on breast health of a diet high in healthy "low glycemic index" foods.
This study was published in the July 2009 issue of International Journal of Cancer.
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